There are a variety of massage therapy techniques used by a variety of different practitioners.  Hopefully this post will help explain more about what techniques I use and how they" />

Massage Therapy Techniques Explained

Posted on 15 May 2013 in Massage Therapy by Jessica Patterson
Jessica Patterson

There are a variety of massage therapy techniques used by a variety of different practitioners.  Hopefully this post will help explain more about what techniques I use and how they differ.


I originally studied Swedish massage as I wanted to know more about the workings of the body. Swedish Massage is a system of long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration and shaking motions that apply pressure between muscles and bones, rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Swedish Massage feels good, is relaxing and invigorating.

The main purpose of Swedish Massage is to increase oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles. Some other benefits of this massage style include shortening recovery time from muscular strain, increased circulation without increased heart load, stretching of ligaments and tendons, skin stimulation and soothing of the nervous system. It reduces stress, both emotional and physical, and is suggested as part of a regular program for stress management.

The sequence of techniques usually used in a session of Swedish Massage are:


  • Effleurage: gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips.
  • Petrissage: kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingertips.
  • Friction: circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingertips.
  • Vibration: oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body.
  • Percussion: brisk hacking or tapping.
  • Passive and Active Movements: bending and stretching.


The patient is required to be appropriately unclothed for the treatments, which would usually be for an hour, although longer or shorter massage treatments are also possible. 


I also have had previous experience studying Thai massage.  Traditional Thai massage is really a deep, full-body treatment, starting at the feet and progressing up to the head. Using a sequence of gentle, flowing exercise movements, the recipient's body is moved, loosened and stretched (some stretch applications linked to Yoga) involving both the joints and the muscles. This unique type of massage influences the energetic side as well, restoring the flow of energy throughout the body with applied acupressure on the sen energy lines of the body, aimed at harmonizing and energizing.

Believed to be over 2000 years old, traditional Thai massage is an authentic healing art and a unique form of body therapy developed by people who used massage not only as a therapeutic method of healing to treat illnesses, but to maintain health and well-being.

It is the combination of yoga stretching, calmness of meditation, with accupressure, exercise movement and reflexology that makes it a healing art. It is worked on a floor with the client dressed in comfortable loose clothing. Thai method uses mainly point pressure and muscle stretching. And it is not just the hands that are used to free tension stored in the recipient's body, but the feet and elbows are used as well.  Some of the physical benefits are:

• Help detoxification of the body and boost immune system

• Increase blood circulation, lower blood pressure

• Good for muscle relaxation, increase flexibility in your muscles, increase mobility

• Improve breathing

• Improves posture, balance, corrects body alignments and dissolves energy blockages

• Improves athletic performance

• Help arthritis and back pain,

• Help tone the body, strengthen joints and fight diseases, including chronic joint problems

• Prevents illnesses and alleviates degenerative diseases

• Slows the aging process


 Although I enjoyed Thai massage and Swedish massage I knew I needed to delve a bit deeper, I just wasn't really sure which direction to take.  So, I decided that I wanted to study Aromatherapy.  Researchers believe that aromatherapy is a safe and effective treatment option, even though most of the benefits derived from aromatherapy are based on anecdotal evidence. The essential oils that are used in aromatherapy are believed to be powerful tools in promoting self-healing. These oils possess sedative or stimulating effects in addition to healing properties. The holistic characteristics of essential oils in aromatherapy bring about important physical and psychological benefits.


Physical Benefits of Aromatherapy

  • The essential oils in aromatherapy possess anti bacterial properties that helps in faster healing of skin disorders.
  • Blood circulation is enhanced and lymph drainage is stimulated during aromatherapy thus boosting the removal of residual toxins in the body.
  • Aches and pains relating to the muscles and joints such as arthritis and chronic backache are also effectively treated with the help of aromatherapy.
  • Energy and stamina is enhanced when muscular fatigue is relieved.
  • Treatment of skin disorders, metabolism conditions and hormonal imbalances.
  • The essential oil of lavender used in aromatherapy was studied and found to have sedative properties. Researchers revealed that the essential oil helped in promoting deep sleep in both men and women. The study also showed that the participants in the experiment reported high energy after the exposure to the essential oil of lavender.
  • Some important essential oils in aromatherapy are useful in destroying harmful bacteria such as MRSA that causes staph infection, E. coli amongst other bacteria and fungi. Another study revealed that patients who inhaled the essential oils did not face the risk of being attacked by harmful bacteria.
  • Aromatherapy is also believed to positively alter labour experiences among pregnant women.
  • A substantial reduction in shingles pain and healing of shingles blisters was reported among participants who were involved in a study involving aromatherapy for patients with shingles outbreaks.
  • Psychological Benefits of Aromatherapy could include:
    • Help in boosting the overall state of well-being
    • Useful in soothing and calming the mind
    • Helping in bringing down nervous stress
    • Helping to lift the spirits and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression


I learnt a lot from studying Aromatherapy;  however I still felt that my direction was not solely here.


Therefore, I took a Sports Therapy course. I learnt so much from this course and have not looked back.  I love what I do, I am always wanting to learn more so that I am able to provide the best treatments I can, although I know that I have now found my niche.  I always want to learn more and within this specific field there are many things to keep up with, as science progresses so does my need to follow this.

In general, anyone can benefit from sports therapy, whether they play sports or not. Any injury to soft tissue in the body caused by sport or something as simple as climbing the stairs etc. will benefit from the same kind of treatment. The treatment includes a range of manual and mechanical treatments used to improve sports injuries and maintain the desired level of fitness. The sports therapist would not work on injuries requiring medical or any other specialist attention, but can work alongside these other professionals.

Many Clients have problems with injuries in their soft tissue but do not need to keep going back to their doctor; hospital or physiotherapist so instead can gain benefit from a qualified sports therapist.

The sports therapist would not give an initial diagnosis but instead would refer the patient to their Doctor, local hospital if need be, or any other qualified medical specialist.

The sports therapist begins their work when diagnosis has been made and the medical attention has been given.


  • Reduce swelling, bruising and pain
  • Speed up the healing process
  • Prevent development of weak area in the body
  • Prevent stress on muscle groups compensating for the injury
  • Allow area to return to normal efficient functioning after treatment. 


I hope this information helps, and if you have questions please contact me directly in the ‘contact us’ area of the website.